From Hayfields to Hillsdale
Written by Klara Holscher
“Why did you come to Hillsdale?” my professor asked me as I sat in his office. I had just finished telling him about the three-year Bible school program I graduated from before entering with the freshman class of ’16, and he wanted to know why I would choose to major in English for four more years at a liberal arts college. He didn’t ask, “But why give up seven years of your life to study things that might not guarantee a well-paying job or a secure career path?” I told him that I visited Hillsdale because my brother was a student and found that I, too, felt at home. Yet I left his office with the realization that I had not fully answered his question.
So why did I come?
When I graduated from high school, hazy ideas about future goals peppered the horizon, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do because I didn’t know who I was. My parents wisely encouraged me to attend a small Bible school in order to lay an invaluable foundation for the rest of my life. I agreed readily enough. For three years, I was given the gift of learning more of Christ and my identity in Him, and what I had been given to do as His follower.
Toward the end of my time in Bible school, it became increasingly clear that God was calling me to pursue an education in writing, teaching, and music. I had always enjoyed writing, but as I had more opportunities to write, I was encouraged by mentors and friends to use and develop the skill. I began to see writing not as a hobby, but as a way I could sustain the weary with words—a way to speak hope to those around me.
Teaching was at first an afterthought, a default plan so I didn’t wind up as a poor, un-published author living in a shabby attic. Yet a growing desire to make a difference in my community began to take root. A further realization that I loved working with young children led me to seriously consider minoring in education.
And music? I loved music from an early age. My experience with the violin began when I was called in from riding the hay wagon at age seven and handed a miniature instrument on which I learned to squeak out some sixteen variations of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” In addition to growing up taking violin lessons, singing was a way of life. My siblings and I sang in the garden, sang in the barn, and sang to the goats. Sometimes we got mad at one another for making up songs instead of working, but most of the time we cheered one another on by singing while we worked together. Fourteen years later, I was still riding hay wagons in the summer and making music year round. As I considered attending college the next year, the idea of actually having time not only to sing while I worked but to work at singing held tantalizing promise.
With a growing awareness of what I loved and who I was, I began entertaining the thought of attending Hillsdale. This was a place where I could major in English, minor in education, and still be involved in the music department. I knew from my brother’s reports that the instruction would be of incomparable value, and I saw this as an opportunity to enter into a pursuit of something far greater than myself. Still, its greatness caused me some trepidation, and I looked forward to my visit with an excitement fringed with fear.
My brother was a sophomore when I visited campus, and he introduced me to a vibrant community of friends and professors. Suddenly, the concept of college lost its fearful quality, as I was welcomed to be part of this place—part of this earnest pursuit.
I visited classes and heard discussions about education that resonated with what had been emerging in my thinking. I joined the choir for an afternoon rehearsal and relished the joy of singing familiar songs that drew me in and made me a part of a crowd of unfamiliar faces. I sat with a professor who gladly spent close to an hour of unscheduled time to talk with me about what the English department had to offer. I drove over the railroad tracks, watched the small-town lights rush by, and knew I had found an outpost of familiarity, faith, and friendship.
So, I came to Hillsdale.
Klara Holscher, ’17, is an English major from Hobart, New York. She possesses a quirky sense of humor, an orange car, and a terrible sense of direction. It remains to be seen whether or not these elements will lead to a career in writing, but regardless, they should afford some amusement along the way.